Game #20 | December 5, 2013
Fedex Forum | Memphis, TN
MEMPHIS – DeAndre Jordan swatted away Zach Randolph’s fade away jumper along the baseline with just under seven minutes to go Thursday night in Memphis and watched Darren Collison and Jamal Crawford race up the floor ahead.
The play ended in free throws for Collison. It was indicative of most of the second half for the Clippers, a stop leading to something positive offensively.
After 24 minutes that, for the most part, on offense mirrored their loss a night earlier, the Clippers looked inspired after halftime and turned a four-point deficit into a runaway, 101-81, victory over the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.
The game does not eradicate the demons of losing three times in the same building in the Playoffs a year ago, but it helps erase the sting of a 10-point loss to Atlanta in game one of their seven-game road trip a night earlier.
“We’re definitely capable of not only playing defense, but good defense,” Blake Griffin said. “This game couldn’t have come at a better time because we wanted to get that feeling off our back.”
Griffin scored 14 points with nine rebounds and five assists, Jordan grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds with 10 points and three blocks while guarding Randolph almost exclusively. And the Clippers’ bench tilted the game against a banged up Grizzlies team, outscoring the Grizzlies, 50-31.
While the bench helped the Clippers (13-7) run away from Memphis (9-9), going 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) from 3-point range, it was the defense that set the tone.
They changed the game in the third quarter, closing it on a 22-7 run that was predicted by defensive stops and getting up the floor. By the fourth quarter they led by as many as 24 points and ultimately held Memphis to 37.7 percent shooting, a season-low for a Clippers’ opponent.
“All I talked about at halftime was zero adjustments, keep doing what you’re doing,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, who earned his 600th career coaching victory. “Eventually, I said, ‘Guys they’re a good defensive team. We’re going to find something. We’ve just got to keep searching. We’re going to find something that works.’”
What worked was holding a Grizzlies team absent Marc Gasol (knee) and Tony Allen (hip) and with Randolph slowed by an ingrown toenail to 11 third-quarter points and just 13 field goals in the second half. Rivers credited Jordan and Griffin with leading the effort.
“It was great,” Rivers said. “I thought those guys (Jordan and Griffin) fought down low. I just thought their leadership defensively was why we won the game.”
The first half was a different story. It was the kind of messy brand of basketball that the Grizzlies would have asked for, especially without their All-Star center. Both teams struggled to reach 40 percent shooting, the Clippers scored a season-low 40 points for any half, there were free throws and fouls and missed layups.
Perhaps it was the icy forecast outside, perhaps the fits of a game in early December with the Clippers on a back-to-back and missing Matt Barnes (eye) and J.J. Redick (hand/wrist).
The Clippers looked their best during a brief stretch in the last 4:13 of the second quarter. Paul nailed a runner to make it 34-31 and after he popped the ball loose from Randolph and Griffin batted it ahead, Paul found Jamal Crawford for a fast-break layup. A reverse layup by Willie Green gave Los Angeles its first lead 23 minutes into the game, but back-to-back 3-point plays by Randolph and Kosta Koufos erased it nearly as quickly as they got it.
But they entered the half down just two and after a few back-and-forth possessions to start the third were seemingly ignited by a flagrant foul on Jerryd Bayless, who used his forearm to knock Griffin to the floor on a ball screen. The Clippers scored 10 of the next 11 points following the foul.
“I thought the way we responded was good,” Griffin said. “There are challenges mentally and physical and I thought that we were mentally tough in that situation. The flagrant gave us two free throws and the ball back and we took that to our advantage.”
Griffin made it 46-44 after hitting both free throws, and Memphis scored just seven points in the final 9:25 of the period.
Griffin has made 12 free throws in a row and is shooting 75.9 percent from the line in his last five games... Jamison had 11 points and moved within six of reaching 20,000 for his career… Jordan is second in the NBA with 14 games with at least a dozen rebounds. Kevin Love leads the league with 15 such games… The Clippers are 35-0 since 2012-13 when holding an opponent to 42 percent or worse from the field… Mike Conley scored a team-high 16 points for Memphis and Randolph had 12 points and 12 rebounds but turned the ball over seven times and made just four of his 13 shots… Paul had 15 points, eight assists and two steals in 27:07. He remained on the bench in the fourth quarter when the lead remained in double digits…
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Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on defense of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan:
“We told Blake and D.J. there’s no help coming. We’re not going to go down there and trap and if you guard them we’ll win and if you don’t we won’t. And I said there would be no traps tonight and they were great.”
Clippers guard Chris Paul on maintaining a consistent defensive performance:
“It would be one thing if we knew we weren’t capable of it or didn’t have the body or people to execute it. But we do. We have young, athletic capable guys.”
Clippers guard Willie Green on the team’s defense in the second half:
“We just stopped worrying about our offense and we knew we had confidence coming in because we were down two and didn’t play our best game in the first half. We didn’t play our best game in the second half. We hit a few more shots, but our defense was better. We just got stops, ran, and consequently we were able to win the game.”
Clippers forward Antawn Jamison on making three 3-pointers after struggling recently to shoot the ball:
“As soon as we landed in Memphis, I forgot all about that game. Today was a mental day, just mentally getting myself ready, doing the little things. Really concentrating on my shot and not moving it and just standing up and down. Once that first one went down I was like, ‘Aww, here we go. That basket it is there.’”
Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph on the game:
“When they started hitting shots, I think we just dropped our heads. I think the energy was there. We played hard in the first half. In the second half they started hitting shots. Jamal Crawford was hitting shots. Jared Dudley was hitting shots. Their bench players were coming off the bench and hitting shots. That team has a lot of good players.”
By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen